In the Midwest, we are lucky enough to have basements. In some other parts of the country, they don't exist. Basements are usually where things like the water heater, furnace and sump pump are housed. However, it doesn't have to stay as just cold, dark, storage space. Depending on your home plan, when building you may even have the option of upgrading from a half basement to a full basement. Having a full basement will give you plenty of space for storage and living. We opted for the full basement.
However, when we moved into our home, one of the things we decided to wait on was finishing the basement. Why? If you have ever gotten a quote on finishing a basement you will know why! It is very expensive and adds a pretty penny to the bottom line of your home purchase price. Lots of homes are sold with unfinished basements because of this reason. However, if and when you do decide to get your basement finished, there are many things to think about.
Having a Great Design Plan
When you walk down to your basement, you may be able to immediately visualize the space that you want. Or, you may struggle with figuring out where to break up rooms and put walls. You may wonder if you need a bathroom. Should it be a half bath or full bath? Where will it go? Do you already have a rough in?
Even before you meet with a contractor take some time to figure out what you might want. If you have a layout of your home already that includes measurements, use it to sketch what you want. Or, create your own sketch. This will help you visualize and make the most of your space
Hiring a Reputable Contractor
Once you have an idea of what you want, reach out to a few contractors to get quotes on your project. Most good contractors will come out for free to access your project. Do your research. If you have friends that have created similar projects ask them for recommendations. Hit the web and look up reviews on the companies in your area. Pay attention to details. Were the contractors on time? Did they add any new fees after the project started? Were they respectful?
The contractor will come up with ideas based on what you chat about. They will walk you through the plans, and explain everything. And then they will likely give you a period of time to make a decision. Keep in mind that many of them will try to pressure you into making a choice that same day by offering a “sign today” incentive. Don't let that sway you if you need time to get other quotes.
Take time to compare the quotes and projects, and pick the one best for you.
Protecting Your Home Surfaces
Although you should be able to trust your contractor not damage your home, you should take precautions yourself. Finishing a basement after the rest of your home is done can be a huge deal. There will be tons of heavy materials like huge sheets of drywall, flooring, 2x4s and much more coming into your home. Accidents happen. The walls may get dinged, and some things may be dropped. If you have beautiful new hardwood floors like I do you will want to protect them with something like Trimaco flame retardant surface protection available at Grainger. And protect your walls with builders paper and painters tape.
One thing that we did not think about when we were building was that HVAC. We have central air and a furnace, but we did not think about the layout of the vents and returns. While chatting about our basement project we realized that we (and by we I mean the contractors) will have to run more vents and returns to some areas of the basement. The area where my husband's studio will be does not have a vent at all. This adds to the cost of the project. So, if you are building, and even if you are not getting the basement finished, you might want to think about making sure that the vents reach all corners of the basement.
This is huge to me. By default, a floor is just a sheet of plywood on top of studs, covered in whatever flooring material you choose. This is not sound proof. Sound carries both ways. If people walk around upstairs, you hear it in the basement. If a chair is moved in the kitchen, you hear it. If music blasts in the basement, you hear it upstairs.
My husband is going to need a music studio. When he blasts music it carries all the way up to the 2nd floor. The flooring holds out nothing! He is planning to pad the area above his studio with heavy duty soundproofing. This is a must! I hate that I have to ask him to keep his music so low while he is working. But, if he doesn't everyone else in the house is disturbed.
Our job has not even started yet, but I am gathering all kinds of decorating ideas. Check out my Pinterest board to see some of what caught my eye.
I'm not a contractor, so there is no way I can no everything that goes into planning a project like this. But, I am learning. Doing research and talking to contractors helps.
Have you done a big remodeling project? How did it go?